Wuhan: Different Every Day

Consider how much you can remember about where you live. Your home, the street you live on. While you probably visualized those places at first, what followed was a felt connection, probably an emotional one built over the time you’ve spent there. 

The word place maybe defined simply as a certain location or a dot on a map but our connection or sense of place consists of a multitude of complex influences. From the news on our screens or top down influences which make up our nations identities all the way to the colour you chose to paint your room. Places are ever changing and constantly contested domains, which ensures that places are in a constant state of flux. Experiences, interactions engrave a record, adding layer upon layer to its history. A powerful reminder for one person however could equally go completely unnoticed by another such is the complexity of place. When a photographer attempts to capture a somewhere familiar to them that connection almost certainly plays a part in their creative process. Wuhan, Different Everyday is a project of discovery, a series of images which are as much about my understanding of how we react to new places, as they are about the city itself, a place I now call home.

While Wuhan has been made famous internationally for all the wrong reasons, it highlights how notions of place are often manufactured through images. The internet may have replaced the postcard but images continue to play a huge part in building up preconceived notions of place. I believe this is magnified when we visit places vastly different from our own normality, with no point of reference we have no choice but to make comparisons based on previous knowledge. When I began this project I was like many before me, drawn to the urban development and its contrasting extremities. Places which were somewhere in between being inhabited and wild. A choice which in part was creative freedom but at the same time simply built upon a stereotypical viewpoint and prior artistic influence. Combine this thought, with the fact that I am from a small village in Oxfordshire and you have a recipe which almost guaranteed that any contrasting urban landscape I discovered was automatically perceived as an irresistible representation of place. Understanding this reaction took time to unravel after all the initial images were so striking, so distinct and raised countless questions.

It’s my belief that if I had merely captured these visually powerful extremities I would have created version of place easily misconstrued by others. A collection images from a small fraction of the city that would have added to that accumulative effect o how a places identity is formed, often present in all artistic forms. A view of place which wouldn’t have reflected all the time I spent exploring or connecting with the other less glamorous, everyday in between places. Recognition and acceptance like a relationship, takes time to build. A realization that shaped my understanding of how I was interpreting the places around me. A journey which still may have a dramatic beginning and end but has resulted in better understanding of what lies between.